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Will the Charleston shooter plead guilty?

South Carolina is pursuing the death penalty against Dylann Roof for murdering nine church members in Charleston, S.C., in June, giving him an incentive to plead not guilty. 

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Dylann Roof appears with lawyers Bill McGuire and Chief Public Defender Ashley Pennington at a court hearing in Charleston, S.C., in July.

Grace Beahm/The Post and Courier via AP

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South Carolina will seek the death penalty against the man charged in the June massacre of nine people at a Charleston church, court documents showed on Thursday.

Dylann Roof, 21, faces charges of murdering nine members of the Emanuel AME Church during a Bible study session. Roof is white and the nine slain people were black.

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Roof faces additional federal hate-crime charges that also raise the possibility of a death sentence.

Ninth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, has scheduled a news conference for Thursday afternoon regarding the case against Roof.

In the court filings, she wrote that "Dylann Storm Roof by his act of murder knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person in a public place."

The death penalty decision could determine how Roof pleads. He has not entered a plea so far in the state's murder case.

At his July 31 arraignment on separate federal hate-crime and firearms charges, his attorney said Roof wanted to plead guilty, but deferred a decision until U.S. prosecutors announced the death penalty in that case.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by David Adams and Will Dunham)